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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Losing Ground and The Bell Curve, this startling long-lens view shows how America is coming apart at the seams that have historically joined our social classes.

In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.

Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—a divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.

The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America, and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. This divergence puts the success of the American project at risk.

The evidence in Coming Apart is about white America. Its message is about all of America.

Charles Murray is the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He first came to national attention in 1984 with Losing Ground. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives with his wife in Burkittsville, Maryland.

©2012 Cox and Murray, Inc. (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“A timely investigation into a worsening class divide no one can afford to ignore.” ( Publishers Weekly)
“[Charles Murray] argues for the need to focus on what has made the US exceptional beyond its wealth and military power… religion, marriage, industriousness, and morality.” ( Booklist)
“This is an immensely important and utterly gripping book… Coming Apart is a model of rigorous sociological inquiry, yet it is also highly readable. After the chronic incoherence of Occupy Wall Street, it comes as a blessed relief. Every American should read it. Too bad only the cognitive elite will.” (Niall Ferguson, professor of history at Harvard and fellow of the Hoover Institution)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

True and Necessary but Depressing

Any additional comments?

The book conveys necessary information for people to understand why things are the way they are in the public forum. Charles Murray goes into exquisite detail in reviewing US History, the evolution of the past few decades and super documentation. However, it is extremely depressing to be continually reflecting on how fragmented and dysfunctional our culture is because we already know! Yet, the author provides readers/listeners a very valid explanation. This book is not fake news. What we watch/read on TV/internet "news" sources is 99% fake and has been for a couple of decades. Not so with "Coming Apart". Charles Murray is a scholar and a gentleman.

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Very Helpful in Understanding Our Society

Charles Murry explained very clearly what is going on in our society. If you want to understand the US better, and the big divides and lack of understanding between people, this is an excellent book. It is only with understanding that we can work successfully to change things. This book presents very logical reasons and ideas for a better future.

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Probably better in the hard version

I really enjoyed this audio book, but it probably works better in hard copy because it includes charts and graphs. The fact that the appendices get covered in the audio version helps though.

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Useless without the charts

This book is basically a narrated series of charts and tables. As such, the audio book is basically half the book. Great piece of nonfiction but needs to be read

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Charts and audiobooks

Books with charts are at least a significant problem if not impossible. I tended to believe the author so I was happy to hear his conclusions. Insightful.

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  • William
  • Haslet, Texas, United States
  • 07-29-15

Great Insights

Would you listen to Coming Apart again? Why?

Yes...lots of facts and figures that are hard to book mark them all.

What did you like best about this story?

It helped me to see what was has been happening from a most interesting perspective. By taking race out of it I found the arguments being made packed a soild punch.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

We all play a role in what happens to our society...own your part and do what you can to make our society better.

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Interesting concepts but too many statistics

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Maybe, I liked the concept of delving into divisions in American society that have arisen during the past 50 years - but became bored over the countless statistics that permeated the delivery of the message

What was one of the most memorable moments of Coming Apart?

The broad concepts

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The statistics - some of which were rather marginal in support of the concepts

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

no

Any additional comments?

The division of society into Belmont and Fishtown were overdrawn and missed the nuances and also the differences that occur within the respective divisions.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not suitable for audio

What did you like best about Coming Apart? What did you like least?

This book has some interesting content but due to the large number of charts and accompanying statistics it makes it rather unsuitable as an audio book. If you want to try this I'd recommend reading the book or ebook.

Was Coming Apart worth the listening time?

No.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Poor excuse for social science

Don't waste your time. Murray explores the development of the new American elite and ignores the economic basis of this development. A silly, biased piece of work.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Making sense of the Changing Face of America

What made the experience of listening to Coming Apart the most enjoyable?

The Comparisons between "Belmont" the more advantaged and successful fictional town and the more downbeat lifestyles of "Fishtown" were a good method of explaining how our country is growing more divided.

Which character – as performed by Traber Burns – was your favorite?

Burns is a great narrator and helps make the content easy to absorb. What is most upsetting about the America Murray portrays is that it is a natural evolution of the things we have always valued, like the role of education in pulling Americans apart.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

having the lives we always wanted is tearing America apart

Any additional comments?

Alas to truly understand this book you probably should be consulting a hard copy. There are lots of statistics which are hard to keep in your mind as the narration moves along. Murray's theories are interesting and there does not seem to be a political bias behind them because he is a libertarian.I didn't think I would agree with the premises in this book but it is hard to disagree with the two Americas and how we got here that Murray reveals.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful